[Dixielandjazz] Re:Evolution of Jazz

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue May 20 17:00:43 PDT 2003

> Brian Towers wrote

> Steve,
> Thanks for saying, up-front, that it is not for everyone on the list.  I
> read it, just for curiosity, as I sometimes take a morbid or cynical
> interest in what is currently happening in the brave new world of "evolved
> jazz"
> While you name the writer, you do not tell us in which publication it
> appears.  I would like to know this, as I would not want to make the mistake
> of inadvertently buying it.
> This is not a scene for which I crave, Steve - I prefer to remain
> un-enlightened.
> In reading carefully through this article by Ben Ratliff,  I can imagine
> what my dear old mum might have said about it -  "What a load of
> sanctimonious old clappfaertt!" or words to that effect.
> Give me the "old jazz" any day.  By the "old jazz" I mean before the
> "improvers" got to work on it and stripped it of its essence!

Brian & List mates:

It was from the NY Times.

I think perhaps you mis understand my "message". My fault for not making it clear.
I too crave and play OKOM. However, I play it to the audience. Not just a bunch of
"art" lovers, but for the general folks out there from 10 to 100 years old. Like
those who first came to love "functional" jazz.

Remember what I said in the beginning of the post:


What I meant by the "scene", was not the kind of jazz that sucks for most of us,
but the real opportunity that exists out there to reach the general audience.

Most of us who play jazz learned how to do it from Louis Armstrong, either directly
of indirectly. We laud his contributions and rightly so. But then, it seems as if
we have forgotten, or ignore, one of his most important teachings. That of playing
to the audience. And "THE AUDIENCE" is everybody who listens to music.

The "SCENE"? In my area, Philadelphia metro, radius 100 miles from center city
there is an enormous populace that craves good music. Generally, it is not readily
available in Jazz. I suspect it is that way everywhere in the world.

Barbone Street targets that enormous populace. Not with BS or pseudo jazz but with
OKOM., (If any one doubts what we play, send me $17 and I'll send you our CD) And
we succeed by delivering OKOM, a/k/a Good Music, to them.

Case in point. (one of many) We are playing the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival in
Wilmington DE, USA, next month. All modern jazz except one night that we headline
with The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. A "Mardi Gras" night smack in the middle of a
modern jazz festival. Why? Because we played there before and were a great success.
We convinced them that OKOM would work in a modern jazz festival setting. (And
Preservation Hall comes with grant money)

Better yet, Barbone Street is doing 4 radio program promos for this festival at
major radio stations in Reading PA, Newark NJ, Philadelphia PA and Wilmington DE.
Music + Interviews. And we are doing a Channel 3 TV (major Philadelphia channel)
Interview and Music Segment with the full band that will air prior to the festival.
Yeah, an OKOM band doing the bulk of the media promos for a Modern Jazz Festival.
How's that for irony? Hasn't been that much OKOM on local media here since the Ken
Burns Show.

How come? Because we are satisfying a need for good music in our market area where
these festivals occur.

Many folks seem to think OKOM has no appeal to the mass audience. That is simply
not the case. We disprove that 160 times a year in our local market, without
traveling. We play with the Big Boys (Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Chuck Mangione,
Dirty Dozen, Preservation Hall, Duke Ellington Orch, Gato Barbieri, Arturo
Sandoval, Herbie Hancock, Joshua Redmond, Yellowjackets, Clark Terry, Dick Heyman,
Bela Fleck, etc., etc., etc.) at 7 major jazz and/or music festivals locally every
year. Audiences counts are enormous in contrast to the usual Dixieland venues. As
is the money count.

So what am I saying? Certainly not to alter your jazz to that of those in the
original article, but to get OKOM out to the masses. The scene I speak of is the
untapped potential among the general audience for swinging, professional OKOM. That
is what I heard the article say. The market is there for the taking in areas all
over the world.

The article did not make that clear unless you read between the lines and think
outside the box. Millions of people want good music. If you provide it, and you
market your band, they will flock to you. And OKOM works.

Steve Barbone

PS. Another case in point: This October we are the opening (and sole first night)
performer for the Rehoboth Jazz Festival. Taking over from some smooth jazz players
of years past. Why? Because the audience loves what we play. Once again, we are the
only OKOM at a major mdern jazz festival. Basically because we sold it to these
kinds of festivals the first time around and were wildly successful in performance
with new generations of music fans. Here we expect 800 to 1000 people, 21 to 75, on
a Thursday night who will pay $30 & $40 each to hear. . . gasp . . . choke. . .

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